If you guessed the Gross Domestic Product of Aruba you are incorrect. Healthcare whistleblower lawsuits brought by people working within the healthcare field are on the rise dramatically and there are no signs of a slow down anytime soon.
In fact, the U.S. v. Halifax Hospital Medical Center case that settled for $85 million earlier this month started as a whistleblower case by system employee Elin Baklind-Kunz.
The False Claims Act allows a person working within the healthcare profession who does not work for the government to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government against their employer claiming fraud against the government. The filing of this type of lawsuit is informally called “whistleblowing” and the lawsuit itself is called a “whistleblower” lawsuit. In addition, the False Claims Act provides a financial incentive for a whistleblower to file a lawsuit. If a whistleblower is successful in their lawsuit, they are allowed to recover a percentage of the funds that are recovered by the government. This percentage is usually about 15 to 25 % of the overall recovery.
In 2013, the federal government announced that healthcare fraud whistleblower lawsuits brought by individuals resulted in $2.6 billion in recoveries! A massive sum that is larger than the gross domestic product of several countries, including Aruba ($2.4 billion)!
But that’s not all. A total of 752 whistleblower lawsuits were filed this year, which broke the previous year’s record of 652 lawsuits. Further, 70% of these 752 lawsuits were healthcare related! In fact, healthcare related lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act have increased tremendously in recent years. Only 62 healthcare whistleblower cases were recorded from 1987 to 1992. But in 2011 alone, there were 417. And in 2012, another 412 were recorded.
The numbers don’t lie. Healthcare related whistleblower suits are on the rise. Think paying attention to compliance plans and provisions covering whistleblowers within your organization is important? Have you examined your compliance plan recently to ensure that your company is in compliance with the Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Medicare billing rules?
At The Bittinger Law Firm, we develop compliance programs for health care clients. A robust and tailored compliance plan can address issues at an organization before a whistleblower addresses them with a lawsuit in federal court.
Check out a summary on the whistleblower recoveries by clicking here http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/December/13-civ-1352.html